Cincinnati native Liz Keating is the newest interim Cincinnati City Council member. She was appointed to the position Friday morning by Hamilton County Probate Judge Ralph Winkler, who said her high energy and the strongly rooted care she has for the community made her stand out from others he considered.
"This person has new and fresh ideas to help make Cincinnati better than ever," Winkler said.
Keating, a Republican, replaces Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld, who "temporarily" stepped down earlier this month as he fights corruption charges. He's the third city councilmember to be accused this year of creating pay-play-schemes with developers.
According to Ohio statute, the probate court appoints the replacement for a council member who has been suspended. The judge is not bound to replace that member with another member of his or her own party.
With Keating's appointment, council is now made up of five Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent.
Keating, 37, says there's been too much talk about City Council and not enough attention on Cincinnati residents.
"This year has plunged the Cincinnati government into one of the darkest times in our history. The result has been the eroding of public trust in our institutions and our leaders," she said.
She's putting restoring the economy and helping families -- particularly children living in poverty -- at the top of her list of priorities.
She says there's been such a focus on the scandals at city hall, it's drawn focus away from Cincinnati residents. Over the next few months, she wants to return the focus to them, especially on small businesses who've financially suffered during the pandemic and on families' needs.
"Our city has a dark spot – our childhood poverty rate and it has gotten worse over the last several months. We are not the city our kids deserve, and my work will not be done until it is," she said.
— Jolene Almendarez (@jalmendarez57) December 18, 2020
Keating says she knows she's been appointed to the position, but she's running to be elected into the job this fall.
"I believe we're at the beginning of a new chapter for Cincinnati. I can't tell you how excited I am to get to work and join council and start moving Cincinnati out of the darkness of this last year and into the next."
Keating is a marketing director at the Jim Stengel Company and a mother to two children, ages 2 and one month. She's married to Jonathan Bennie and they live in Hyde Park with their two young children.
She said she hopes to gain the public's trust and be officially voted onto council in 2021.
Her last name is not unfamiliar to longtime Cincinnatians. Her grandfather, William J. Keating, was a Cincinnati councilman, congressman, publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and part founder of the Keating, Muething & Klekamp law firm.